Children's of Mississippi child life specialist Madeline Wilson sorts donated toys in this file photo.
Children's of Mississippi child life specialist Madeline Wilson sorts donated toys in this file photo.
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Children’s of Mississippi Annual Holiday Giving Drive is Dec. 13-15

Published on Monday, November 27, 2023

By: Annie Oeth,

Photos By: Joe Ellis/ UMMC Photography

The North Pole isn’t the only place Santa’s helpers are at work.

At Children’s of Mississippi, participants in the annual Holiday Giving Drive will deliver gifts for patients at Children’s of Mississippi Dec. 13-15.

Portrait of Jennifer Hospodor

“Every year, Mississippians give from their hearts to make sure all of our patients have holiday surprises,” said Jen Hospodor, director of community development, annual giving and alumni engagement. “Not only do the items donated during the annual Holiday Giving Drive brighten the season for our patients, but they help Children’s of Mississippi provide birthday gifts and surprises for patients all year long.”

Giving hours on those days are 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Gift-givers can give anytime through Children’s of Mississippi’s wish lists for Amazon (toys and essentials) and Walmart items. Links to those lists are found at Those wish lists can also give in-person donors ideas for needed toys, books and more.

Items on the list include toys for infants to older children, coloring books, crayons and markers plus entertainment for adolescents. Essentials on the wish lists include pajamas, fleece loungewear and slippers because patients may need hospital care so quickly that family members won’t have time to bring them items from home.

Healthy snacks are also needed for patients and their families during hospital stays, so soup, pudding, jerky, granola, popcorn and other items can be donated online through wish lists or through the Adopt-A-Floor program.

Portrait of Cara Williams

"We are always grateful for and amazed by the generosity of Mississippians,” said Cara Williams, child life manager at Children’s of Mississippi. “These gifts bring so much joy and help our patients and their families have a sense of normalcy during a potentially stressful time. They also remove a small burden from parents who are focused on their child's health. Beyond that, these toys can help our patients meet medical goals and keep up with developmental milestones during their hospital stay."

Choosing items from the Children’s of Mississippi wish lists and buying them online or dropping them off are among the do’s. There are also some holiday don’ts.

Among the items that Children’s of Mississippi cannot accept are:

  • Wrapped gifts and goodie bags since the contents must be seen to determine whether an item is right for a certain patient.
  • Used items, including those that are gently used, due to infection control policies.
  • Religious items.
  • Toy weapons and violent video games and movies.
  • Gift cards.
  • Larger toys such as toy kitchen sets since they may not fit well inside a hospital room.
  • Bikes, scooters, pogo sticks and other riding toys that may not be appropriate for sick and injured children.

“The easiest way to remember Children’s of Mississippi and the University of Mississippi Medical Center this holiday season is to give online,” Hospodor said. “Gifts from our wish lists or a donation to Child Life or Children’s of Mississippi Family Assistance Funds or the Adult Patient Needs Fund can be done quickly from your computer or smartphone.”

Gifts to these funds allow child life and social work teams to buy items patients and families need immediately, such as medications not covered by insurance, car seats and meal tickets. Visit and use the designation menu to choose a fund.